Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Public safety

'Cat burglar' has long history in Pasco, deputies say

RECOMMENDED READING


PORT RICHEY — The burglary suspect told deputies he once sought out a home because the lights were on inside — the better to find his loot. He crept into bedrooms to snatch wallets and purses beside sleeping strangers.

Deputies say he did this, or tried to, at least 29 times.

The burglaries started in February and quickly revealed an M.O., said Pasco sheriff's Detective Jennifer Zoccoli: Always at night, in the latter half of the month, the burglar went through unlocked doors and usually went for credit cards and cellphones. The cards were used at gas stations, then thrown away.

Detectives entered the information, enough to fill a binder as thick as a shoebox, into databases. More patterns emerged. Dots denoting the burglaries congregated in a circle with a 1.5-mile radius on a map of the Embassy Hills subdivision. From an aerial view, the "cat burglar," as detectives referred to him, was painting his own crosshairs.

Deputies canvassed the neighborhood, looking for information and telling residents about the burglaries. By night, they surrounded the subdivision.

On July 20, Deputy Darold Cook saw him near a house in the neighborhood and chased the burglar but lost him. Detectives got boot prints and a composite sketch from Cook. They took the sketch door to door.

Neighbors led them to 7814 Chalafonte Drive, where Shawn William Culver lived.

Culver's name had never come up in the area's previous criminal reports during the investigation. But one detective recognized him.

In the late '80s, Sgt. William Lawless investigated a string of similar burglaries in the Holiday Lake Estates subdivision. The suspect slipped through unlocked sliding glass doors to steal. He confessed after he was arrested and charged with burglary in 1992.

Culver had been taken in by his grandmother to raise and assumed her last name, Blaskey. Detectives realized they were looking for the same person when they ran information in the database and came up with the old alias.

"Once I realized it was Blaskey," Lawless said, "we pretty much knew we were on the right track."

Inside his house, they found stolen loot and masks made from shirt sleeves Culver was seen wearing in home surveillance tapes.

Culver told deputies that he committed five burglaries the same way: He would steal purses, throw them away a few houses down and try to immediately use the cards he had found. Then he would get rid of the debit or credit cards — but not before spending $4,000.

He said he committed burglaries after he ran out of gas money. Almost all the crimes were committed after the middle of each month, according to reports.

Culver was initially arrested on four counts of burglary of an occupied dwelling and a single count each of attempted burglary of an occupied dwelling, obstructing an officer without violence and prowling. The charge count is now around 30, but detectives are still pursuing leads after finding stolen items from 2012 burglaries in the home.

Since the arrest, Zoccoli said, similar burglaries have stopped.

Contact Alex Orlando at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Comments

Hernando deputies make arrest after finding body of dead woman Wednesday

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 32-year-old man Wednesday who they say killed a woman.Joshua Carroll, 32, faces a charge of second-degree murder.Deputies found the body of the woman, who was not identified, at 15013 Old St...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa husband gets life, wife 40 years for sexual assault on 7-year-old

Tampa husband gets life, wife 40 years for sexual assault on 7-year-old

TAMPA — The mother of a 7-year-old girl stood weeping in a federal courtroom, demanding lifelong prison sentences for the Tampa couple who sexually assaulted her daughter while the girl’s own father took videos and pictures. "I don’t want my child to...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Details emerge in suicide of Hernando school volunteer accused of sexual abuse

Details emerge in suicide of Hernando school volunteer accused of sexual abuse

A former Brooksville school volunteer accused of sexually assaulting teenage foreign exchange students who were under his care was found dead last week, a day before he was due in court on the charges.The body of Bruce McAllister was found at the bas...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Fire sends smoke through roof of Brass Flamingo adult club in Port Richey

Fire sends smoke through roof of Brass Flamingo adult club in Port Richey

PORT RICHEY — Crews from Pasco County fire rescue were battling a fire Wednesday morning that sent smoke pouring through the roof at the Brass Flamingo adult club, 9034 U.S. 19.The fire forced the closing of U.S. 19 but traffic was flowing again by 6...
Published: 11/22/17
Mountains beckon, but family sticks with beleaguered Seminole Heights for Thanksgiving this year

Mountains beckon, but family sticks with beleaguered Seminole Heights for Thanksgiving this year

TAMPA — Before the killings began, Bob and Vivian Fiallo envisioned having Thanksgiving at their North Carolina mountain getaway.Most years, the couple spends the holiday at their tidy, brick-faced home on North Olney Avenue, in the heart of Southeas...
Published: 11/22/17
Report: Pepin Academies director had alcohol in his system at time of fatal boating accident

Report: Pepin Academies director had alcohol in his system at time of fatal boating accident

CLEARWATER — The former Pepin Academies executive director who died in a watercraft and boat collision on Sept. 23 had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the level at which the state presumes someone is impaired, a toxicology report showed. Just befo...
Published: 11/21/17
Pasco Deputies: Man climbs into bed with sleeping woman after multiple burglaries

Pasco Deputies: Man climbs into bed with sleeping woman after multiple burglaries

NEW PORT RICHEY — A man who ended a series of burglaries by breaking into the home of a sleeping woman, where he climbed into her bed, was arrested Monday afternoon, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.Russel Smith, 42, now faces three felony char...
Published: 11/21/17

28-year-old man shot dead in Spring Hill home, deputies say

SPRING HILL — A 28-year-old man was shot and killed inside a Spring Hill home Monday night, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies responded to at least two separate 911 calls about 8:15 p.m., in which callers reported shots being...
Published: 11/21/17
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Published: 11/21/17

Crash involving bicyclist closes EB lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Tampa

TAMPA — Eastbound lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard were reopened by 6:30 a.m. at S Parker Street in downtown Tampa after a bicyclist was struck early Tuesday morning.The crash occurred in front of the University of Tampa, according to broadcast reports.W...
Published: 11/21/17